Amongst the wreckage, still scattered about, burned the funeral pyre's of Bowser's two sons.
All of the Kings reaming children were with him, including their biological mother and her family, as well as close friends of the royal koopa clan. Beyond them surrounded a large crowd of Bowser's subjects, there to view this solemn assembly.
As the fire engulfed his children above him on their pyre's, Bowser spoke to them as they were carried away in twisting ribbons of smoke and ashes.
"My sons, pride of my being, I promise you this; where you fell, they shall fall. I shall build your tombs upon their crushed bodies."
Ceremonial gongs repeatedly crashed, softly and slowly. All raised their right arm in the Imperial Salute toward their fallen princes.
Luigi watched from nearby; chained to a stake, with his limbs and neck bound tight; clothes worn and tattered, cold and wet, waiting to die.
"Bowser has issued an order demanding that we show ourselves to him within three days or he will publicly execute Luigi. And he's already been bound to that stake for several days with no food or water and exposed to the elements. If we show ourselves he will surely kill him anyway, and then us! I just don't know what to do." Daisy sobbed
All in the house where they had taken refuge were silent. Staring at the floor, hopeless, knowing this was their end. No more fun adventures, no more surety that the heros would come off the victors.
Mario sighed and shook his head as he looked at Daisy, "What else can we do? If we sit here, my brother dies anyway. If we go, we might have a chance..."
Daisy laughed, "A chance, a chance? Are you kidding me? Mario, look around! We are completely on our own here. We have nothing to help us fight against him."
"Would you condemn him to death then?! At least if we go we could have a chance at doing something!" Mario snapped back.
Daisy felt a pang of shame and guilt and cast her eyes to the floor once more.
"Beside the fact, look what I've got."
Mario produced a small item that lifted the spirits off all in the room to nearly that of outright joy.
"Where did you get that?!" cried Daisy. "That may be all we need!"
Mario smiled, "Yes, I know. Now, read me," Mario sarcastically quoted with his fingers, "Lord Bowser's Imperial Order."
Daisy laughed as Yoshi handed her the order. She unfurled the roll and mockingly cleared her throat.
"It says: 'By order of the Emperor, the Great Demon King Koopa, Lord Bowser. The fugitives: Mario, Daisy and Yoshi are to show themselves in the square of the Halls of Administrative Justice and Punishment three days from the issuance of this notice. They are to be given free passage through all of my realm. No servant of mine is to capture them nor impair their journey to me. If the three in question do not show themselves by the third day, Luigi and Peach shall be publicly executed on the spot.'"
Mario sighed heavily. "Well, three days it says?" He smiled and raised an eyebrow. "Shall we visit him sooner?"
Bowser sat concealed in the shadows of the marble columns with his hands clasped; staring in contemplative ponderings at Luigi across the square, waiting for his enemies to show themselves. He had been there for two days now, rarely moving, immersed in thought.
Peach sat at his side. She reached over and ran her finger's through his hair.
"My love, do you really think they'll show?"
Bowser's gaze did not break from Luigi, "They will show." His breathed out heavily and whispered to himself, "They have to show." A smile curled his mouth.
The sound of metal jewelry clanging together, the trappings of princes, and the thuds of heavy foot steps echoed through the columned halls.
Roy and Ludwig appeared before their father. They both saluted him and then Roy spoke, "Father, Mario and his accomplices have been spotted heading this way."
Bowser sat forward in his throne, "Where?!"
Ludwig answered, "Not far from here my father. Perhaps an hour's journey avay."
The Lord leaned back. He smiled with great satisfaction. "I knew they would come."
His two sons let their father revel in himself for a moment before pressing him.
"My father," said Ludwig, "Vhat shall ve do? Vhat are your instructions?"
"Your instructions my children? You and your other siblings are to keep your patience until they are well within the confines of the city. Then I want you all to assist in the capturing of Daisy and Peach. Lead Mario to me. You must not fatally harm him."
His sons shook their heads in agreement. They saluted him and Roy said, "Success my Lord!" Followed my Ludwig who bowed his head and mildly spoke, "Success father."
Peach only looked at her husband with an approving smile.
"It's-a awfully a-quiet around here," Mario said softly.
The three walked through the glistening beauty of the Imperial City; their eyes wide as they admired the surroundings and watched for enemies.
"This feels like a trap," said Daisy.
Mario laughed, "Of course it's a trap."
"Do you really think Bowser will execute Peach too?" Daisy knew, but for the sake of relieving stress asked anyway.
Mario knew why she had asked and so answered her, "I don't think so. Remember, she was what he was after all these years. And now that he's got her under the control of his mind altering dark koopa magic, she's not going anywhere, and I don't think he's in a hurry to change that. But you never know what a..."
Mario was cut short by a sinister laugh that rang through the cities avenues. The eyes of the three darted back and forth searching for the source.
Mario knew who it was, and from where it came from. He spun around and pointed to a roof of an ornate building. "Morton!"
Morton laughed again before returning the gesture. In a voice of disgust and a snarl to match, he said, "You! I'm surprised you cowards had the courage to show your lowly faces here. You have but one chance to surrender. Bow before your prince and beg me for mercy and I will consider showing it."
Indignantly, Daisy replied, "Or what? You'll talk us to death?"
Morton laughed within himself and said, "Talk you to death? Hardly my princess. Although your death will most assuredly be involved. Now witness why the Koopas shall always reign supreme over the Mushroom Kingdom!"
Morton curled his arms in front of him and clenched his fists. His eyebrows furrowed and his mouth was curled. He raised his arms suddenly into the air and as he did the ground below did the same. Huge spires of rock came jutting and twisting out of the ground with every upward thrust Morton made.
"Mario! Mario! He's trying to separate us!" Daisy shouted. Mario could not hear her for the roar of the earth but he knew what Morton was attempting to do, and he cursed the koopas ability to use magic in such a dark way.
Yet, however strong Morton's mastery of dark koopa magic was, Mario's will was stronger. Somehow he kept ahead of Morton's advances; leaping and bounding to and fro, when suddenly great claps of thunder were heard.
The greatness of the thunder alone was terrifying. Yet through it another sinister laugh could be heard. With his hands raised high, and standing beside Morton, Larry was calling forth lightening from the heavens and commanding it towards the three.
Now they had him. Mario could outmaneuver rock but not light that was there in an instant and gone in the next. Everywhere he ran it was there waiting for him. Waiting to sear the air and burn his eyes into near blindness.
Mario could hear the laughter and the taunts of Bowser's other children around him but did not know where they were. He could barely see. In front of him were only flashes of white, and the pink and black spots repeating themselves over and over again in his vision from his burned eyes.
He was separated; blindly stumbling around and waving his arms out in front of him. "No!" He thought to himself. "This isn't possible!"
He was knocked to his feet, and as he lie on his back, all he could see was the immense figure of Roy walking menacingly through the exploding rock and light towards Daisy and Yoshi. He held out his hand in a feeble and useless attempt to reach them. Roy struck them both, sending them into unconsciousness. Mario's outstretched hand drew into a fist as Roy flung them over his shoulder and carried them off.
A swift kick from a koopa's clawed feet sent Mario flying. He crashed into the ground. His chest bleeding from a punctured rib cage.
He crawled a few paces before coming to rest against a piece of earth that had been forced from it's place below. He stared at the ground and noticed many feet come into view. He looked up and Bowser's heirs were standing their in front of him; filling his sight.
They gazed down upon him with satisfied faces; bleeding with contempt for their defeated foe. Iggy backhanded him, his claws slicing into Mario's face, he slid against the wall into a heap on the ground, eyes closed.
"Fool." said Ludwig, as Wendy spit onto his face.
Bowser sat in his throne wrapped in shadow, listening to the battle taking place. Pleased with his children and pleased with the soon to be outcome of his enemies.
Mario awakened in the same spot. It was evening now. and though in a haze and in pain, he wasted to time in gathering himself. He could hear the screams of Daisy through the streets. He chased after the echoes that bounced of the corridors and small passageways of the city; knowing it was a trap to lead him to Bowser alone.
He found himself at the opening of a narrow and long passageway. Shrieks came from its opposite end. He knew he shouldn't go any further, but the sound of Daisy's lamentation was too much for him to bear, so he stepped forth. Not more then ten paces into the corridor the entrance behind him collapsed. Iggy's voice shouted from over the rubble heap, "See you on the other side Mario." Laughter of his brothers and sister joined his.
He knew now where this very dark passageway lead. Yet he went forth, until at long last he came to the other side.
Stepping out from the night enshrouded passageway, he almost went blind from the illumination now before him. Great torches stood before him, encircling the square where Bowser had commanded him to be. When Mario was finally able to fully open his eyes again, he saw the destruction he had caused that resulted in the death of Bower's sons. And there, on a platform, in front of the nearly collapsed building of the Hall of Administrative Punishment, were Luigi, Daisy and Yoshi, all bound together upon the stake, and showing pronounced signs of brutal torture.
Mario quickly gauged his surroundings. He scanned the make shift arena, complete with an audience of Bowser's children encircling him high above so that the light from the immense torches was cast up upon them, creating sinister shadow creatures against the backdrop of marbled structures.
And there! There was Peach! After months of being deprived of her smile and the sound of her voice, she was in sight. "I'll save you my dear." he thought to himself.
But all thought of plans and strategy disappeared when Bowser stepped out from the shadow and appear as a towering god behind Peach.
Bowser stood for a moment, gazing down on Mario as a creature to be most pitied.
"I've been waiting for you my friend." He said with a growl.
"Have you now my Lord?" Mario retorted as he bowed in jest.
Bowser, amused, let out a small chuckle, "Mock if you must. But now you shall pay for the death of my sons."
"They got what they deserved. Those evil murderous things of yours! They..." Mario realized his folly.
Bowser's full hatred was ignited. He raged and shouted and raised his head and let out a mighty blast of fire that engulfed the underside of the colonnade he was under.
He ran from the hall and the flames were pulled after him as a shroud. He leaped into the air and shouted, "How dare you!" He came down on foot and bended knee; pulverizing the ground below. He swiped at Mario, but missed. Beginner's luck for his foe.
Bowser's rage was too powerful for Mario, and so the battle became a game of cat and mouse. The Koopa King was merely playing with him for his own amusement.
Mario thought that if he could only get close to Peach, he could snap her out of her nightmare, and she could help him to defeat Bowser. Yet every time Mario could risk a glance at Peach, she only calmly sat, legs crossed, with a smile on her face.
The would be hero glanced back at his friends tied to the stake, and in so doing, tripped on debris and slammed his head into the ground. Bowser charged and scooped him up in his immense hands; which began to glow.
"Oh no, this isn't-a good." Mario thought to himself. He had seen Bowser command the lighting from his hands before, and he knew what was coming.
The clouds above them began to swirl in a circular pattern and flash within. Bowser's and Mario's hair was being blown back by a wind seemingly emanating from his hands. They were now face to face, Mario being held aloft.
With a flash, Bowser's hands ignited and great arcs of hot blue electricity snaked from his hands and whipped and cracked throughout the arena, bathing the battlefield in a cold light.
Mario shrieked so loudly that it seemed the inhabitants of the entire city heard him. And his were joined by those on the stake when lashed with shimmering beams of hot energy. His hair began to burn and it felt as if his bones would fuse together. His eyes were shut, in agony, but forced open when Bowser grabbed a tuft of singing hair on the back of Mario's head and forced his stare into his eyes.
Bowser smiled, and bearing his teeth, said "End game Mario!"
With that he forced a loud and bright explosion from his hands and hurled Mario across the debris field. He crashed into the ground, and rolled several times until he came to a stop.
All was silent save for Bowser's heavy breathing and the singeing of Mario's clothes and hair. Bowser turned his gaze from Mario and started to walk away when an excited gasp from Daisy spun him around again. Mario was still alive. He was shaking and moving slowly but he was searching for something in his denim blue pocket.
Bowser's furrowed eyebrows became arched when he heard Daisy shout, "Use it Mario, use the star!"
As she said that Mario began to glow and flash in a rainbow of bright colors. He stood up tall and ran to Bowser, leaving trails of sparkling points of light behind him.
Mario shouted, "End game Bowser!"
Bowser only shook his head and said calmly to himself, "No, I don't think so."
He shifted his immense weight toward Luigi, Daisy and Yoshi. Bowser's chest inflated. The three knew what was coming. They could barely move but they could still hold each others hands, even if awkwardly. They shut their eyes, and Bowser leaned forward and exhaled.
Mario diverted his course in attempt to reach them. He ran down the side of the horizontal column of fire racing toward his friends and brother. He could feel its intense heat but was unaffected. He put all of his strength into reaching them but the rolling furnace won out.
Mario skidded to a stop and fell to his knees. His breathing fell short and it felt as if his heart stopped. He was too late. The wall of molten flame slammed into them. Mario watched as they were carried away. Only a short cry was heard from them and they were gone. Nothing was left but a smoldering mound. They were simply gone.
Mario remained on his hands and knees, no thought in his mind. He simply stared at where his loved ones used to be only a moment ago.
The star had worn off and Mario collapsed into the ground. He lay their for a few moments until the soft laughter of a woman that he used to know called him from his darkness. But it was not an inviting call, for the laughter was not warm, but cold.
He brought himself to stand and saw Peach close to Bowser's side, grinning and clutching his arm.
She looked up at her husband, "Quite a show my dear." She looked down back to Mario, "Now how shall we conduct the grand finale?"
Mario realized that Peach could still defeat Bowser using her magical skills alone. He took hold of the opportunity.
"Peach!" He exclaimed. "What has Bowser done to you?! Look at yourself! You just witnessed the death of your friends by this beast and your clinging to him! Wake up! You don't really love him! Remember Daisy! She was under the same spell but she broke through it! You have to fight this Peach, please fight it!"
Peach sighed and raised an eyebrow. "Fight it? Break through it? I don't love him you say? Well Mario, I do have a revelation for you." She walked up to him and spoke softly into his ear, "Would you like to know what it is?"
She backed off and Mario only stared at her.
"The truth is my old friend, that the dark koopa magic had worn off quite some time ago. At first, I did what Daisy had done. I pretended I was still under its grasp so that Bowser would not try it again or have me executed. Yet during the time of my stay with him, I came to know his family, his children, and his way of doing things. At first, I must admit I was repulsed, but in time I came to admire him and his ways and eventually I grew to love him and his family."
Mario was shocked. He had no words.
Peach walked back to her Lord.
"So now I am glad my past friends are gone, and that you shall soon join them. No longer am I a dainty helpless princess ruling over a kingdom of cowering toads. I am a mighty empress at the side of my emperor, my lord, my king, my husband." She was gazing into Bowser's eyes as Mario's were staring blankly at hers.
"So this is really what you want?!" Mario exclaimed.
"Always." said Peach.
Mario, knowing he had nothing to lose, simply sighed and said, "Alright." With that he charged her, threw her over his shoulder and began to run.
"Fool." Bowser said to himself. "Morton!" he commanded, "Remove the ground!"
Morton raised his hands and in the same fashion as before, the ground tore itself apart, yet much more violently this time. Mario was blocked in and Bowser strode over to him and deftly picked Peach off of his shoulders. There was no where for Mario to go; yet the ground was still being shorn apart, until at last a red hot glow was revealed.
"Ah lava. You should remember this Mario, seeing as how you caused me to fall into it and burn all the flesh from my body years ago." Bowser said.
The lava continued to climb higher into the pit Morton had dug out until it was nearly to the surface.
Mario knew now how he was to die.
Bowser lifted up one of his hands in a waving motion and said, "Poetic justice I would say. Any last words?"
Mario's conqueror was greatly displeased for he was desirous of Mario to plead and beg for mercy.
"I love you Peach. I always have." Mario said as tears left clean lines on his ashen face.
Peach drew her sword, put it up to Mario's throat and made him walk backwards to the rim of the pit. Mario could feel the intense heat searing what was left of his hair and clothes. His eyes cast in agony and sorrow as he looked into Peach's.
Yet her smug face only calmly replied, "It's a pity I don't feel the same for you."
She smiled and sheathed her sword and took a few steps back. This was her husbands moment for revenge, and she let him bask in all of its lust and glory.
Bowser stepped forth and encircled his hand around Mario's neck and lifted him up into the air.
They stared into each other souls. Mario felt as if he would burst into flames, not from the heat below, but from the heat of anger and hatred in Bowser's eyes.
Bowser's children were all near to witness their enemies end.
"You shall trouble me no more! Farewell Mario!"
With that Bowser tossed him forward into the lava pit.
Mario splashed into the molten liquid. His back arched, his eyes rolled into his head and a loud yelp was heard. He ignited; the half of Mario's lifeless body that was still visible above the lavas surface sank in flames into Bowser's malice and revenge. Bowser stood over the lava pit glaring down with a grin on his face for some time after Mario dissapeared; his arm around Peach and surrounded by his children.
Unable to bare the molten heat no more, Peach tugged at his arm. "Come on love, lets go." Bowser grunted and shook his head, "What? Oh yes." He brushed her hair, "Yes, let us go."
His children dispersed to their own concerns and Bowser and Peach sauntered back to their thrones under the soot filled collanade. Bowser brushed her throne clean and she deftly sat down. Her Lord took his seat, his cheast heaved in a deep contemplative sigh. Peach paid no heed; her attention fixed on staightening her stained gloves. She turned and smiled at Bowser. He paid no notice. She crossed her legs and curved her back and still he did not notice. She let out a pouty sigh and her shoulders slumped; and yet still he did not notice. She straightened herself once more. Chest pushed forward, hands around her knee and head tilted playfully to the side, her voice merrily light, she said, "Honey, how do I look?"